Three standout athletes signed National Letters of Intent during a series of special ceremonies at the Williston Northampton School’s Grubbs Gallery on Nov. 12.
Surrounded by the joyful chaos of family, friends, teammates and coaches, John “Jack” Gethings, Maranie “Mar” Harris-Kuiper, and Gracie Simpson penned agreements with Fairfield University in Connecticut, Saint Leo University in Florida, and Elon University in North Carolina, respectively.
By signing the agreements to attend their chosen schools as part of the Class of 2019, the students have notified other schools that they may no longer be recruited. All three Williston seniors said the commitments came as a relief after an intense recruiting season and said they were very happy with their choices.
Mr. Gethings, who will captain the Williston team this year, will join the Fairfield Stags baseball team in the fall. Boys Varsity Baseball Head Coach Matthew Sawyer described Mr. Gethings as “a really savvy baseball player” who was “no doubt D1 caliber.”
Coach Sawyer said that the university was a good fit for his player, as it featured a close-knit community with a competitive athletics program.
“It has all the D1 perks,” Coach Sawyer said, “But it’s small enough where he can be himself.”
In 2014, Fairfield had the best season in the history of the baseball program, according to the university. The Stags went to the MAAC Baseball Tournament for the second time in three seasons and finished 32-24 overall, with a 15-8 record in league play. Mr. Gethings said joining the Stags “just felt right” and added that he was excited to be joining such a strong team.
Ms. Harris-Kuiper, who is a captain of this year’s varsity basketball team, said her decision to sign with Saint Leo also came down to finding the best fit in terms of community, academics, and athletics.
“I went to over 10 schools,” she said. “When I went to Saint Leo, everything about it was literally perfect. I felt part of the team…I couldn’t ask for a better school.”
Last year, Saint Leo women’s basketball team broke school records for wins in a single season, and for conference wins in a single season. The team capped off these achievements by advancing to their first-ever NCAA South Region tournament appearance. The Lions finished with a 20-10 overall record, which the university noted was the highest win percentage for the program.
Girls Basketball Head Coach Jen Fulcher described Ms. Harris-Kuiper as an “incredible young woman, warm, extremely hardworking, strong, and a gifted player” and added that “any team would be lucky to have her.”
“She has great hands, great speed and quickness, is a great defender and always a threat on offense,” Coach Fulcher said. “Gracie has got to be one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever coached.”
Ms. Simpson said that she had been blessed to play at Williston, where she realized, through both playing with the team and development camps, that she had the ability to be an impact player on a D1 team.
“When I got to high school, playing with Coach Fulcher and the team inspired me,” she said. “It became more fun. I didn’t see it as a huge stress, I developed a love for it.”
In 2014, its inaugural season, the Phoenix women’s lacrosse team had an 8-8 overall record and 4-1 in its league. Elon finished second in the conference during the regular season and Head Coach Josh Hexter was named Atlantic Sun Conference coach of the year.